Saturday, March 20, 2010

Costa Rican vacation

Well, we've been back in town for 3 days now and it seems like a lifetime ago....  So, what did we do? how did we like it?  Lemme just say.....

Sunday March 7 - off to DFW airport at 7:30am. We hooked up with our friends Karolyn and Tony in terminal D, grabbed some breakfast and boarded the plane.  While taking in the view out the airplane window the land looked much drier than I expected.... interesting..... A book, headphones, an in flight movie (Where the Wild Things Are - blah) and we arrive at Liberia Costa Rica to bright sunshine, warm winds and an hour in line to go through immigration.  Really, we stood there for an hour to get INTO Costa Rica.  We felt like cattle.  Once through that madness, we found our van driver right outside the gates, loaded up in the Toyota van and headed to the resort.  Again... much much drier than we imagined. Ray even commented that it looked like central to western Texas... and it did.

We may have been missing our NASCAR race on TV but our driver made up for it in the ride to the Paradisus! He was crazy! But, we got there in one piece.

The Paradisus Playa Conchal is behind a gated secured area and the grounds were amazing. Flowers, foliage, birds....everywhere.  Check in was quick and virtually painless and we found out that the other half of our group was all checked in and they had put us all together in the same building/bungalow.
After getting semi settled we headed out to find the rest of the crew down at the pool.  Not an easy task, the place and the pool area is huge.   The pool and area was beautiful and just steps from teh exit out to the beach.  Ray and I headed out to check out the bay and beach area and he took a few trys at bodysurfing which he loves.  We headed back to our friends only to find our beach bag gone, missing, no where around.  In the bag was our wallets, room keys, my new watch.... Communcating with the front desk, attempting to contact security, finally getting the manager on duty, spending 3 hours canceling credit cards over international lines was NOT the way we wanted to spend our first evening in paradise.  Luckily we had brought plenty of cash which we had put in the safe along with our passports.  Not in the mood to be happy and carefree at dinner with the rest of the group, we ordered room service and had a couple of drinks in our room.  Needless to say, not happy. About the time our burgers were delivered the phone rang and Melina, the manager on duty was calling to tell us our bag had miraculously appeared.  They brought the bag and everything was there.  hmmmmm..... we didn't ask where it came from, who had it... just glad it was there, even if we still had no credit cards since we had CANCELED THEM!  We ate our burgers and fries (quite good by the way) in our room.....

Well by this time, since everyone else had ummmm started a little earlier and had partaken of livations during this whole time, our gang was already down for the count.  Ray and I found a patio bar, met some nice folks from Colorado, Canada and Chicago and had a very pleasant evening..... even if it was a little exhausting. We finished up with a walk on the beach to look at the amazing stars.
Off to bed with plans to hang by the pool and spend the next day relaxing and having fun with our friends.  Buffet breakfast, pool, pool bar, buffet lunch, pool, pool bar, a cool nap in the room, room service appetizers, before dinner drinks, awesome dinner at one of the 7 restaurants on the property. Steaks, Sea bass, lamb, desserts, wine,  after dinner drinks, star gazing...... a very fun day.
Tuesday was our group outing, activity day.  ATV ride and zip lining, What? Zip lining.... After breakfast and a little pool time, we headed out to the ATV's to load up.  A short trek on the beach, through the little town, up some mountain roads, alongside some control burns due to extreme dry conditions and we arrive at our zip line location. Riding on the back of an ATV is NOT the most comfortable mode of transporation. 
 Half on the seat, half on the rear rack, I'm just sayin.  but the funniest thing of all was the way we looked.  After about an hours ride we were covered in dust and dirt, I mean covered!  Now on to the zips.

They harnessed us up, complete with helmets and gloves and none to comfortable.  That was the least of it.  To get to the first zip we had to walk up about a mile of steps. This for 10 people completely out of shape!  Heavy breathing followed.  Arriving at the first line we recieved our instructions... a little complicated but all of us are game.... well nearly.   So, you harness up, get these special gloves on with special leather padding in the palms.  This addition is very very important.  There are carabiner hooks which have to be connected to the zip which is above your head....hmmmm how to connect the two.

OK, you reach up and grab the lines and the handlers assist and hook the two together and..... off you go! It is a blast!  We did about 6 of these with some climbing in between. The guides were extremely helpful, safe  and fun.  One of the group is afraid of heights and made it on a couple of the zips but was done after a couple of lines and they picked her up and drover her down the mountain. Very nice guys. When we were done we climbed back on our rides and headed back to the resort (and more dirt).  We did make a short rest stop at a local beach bar for a couple of beers and some of the best homemade chips and guacamole ever. Another stop to watch the sunset over the bay and then back to the resort.
It took each of us about an hour in the showers to clean off all the dirt, dust and grime before we could even think about dinner.  Second restaurant dinner was italian cuisine and better than the first night.  Risotto with mushrooms and chicken, Ray went for the lamb(again), more good wine then back to the patio bar and the casino for a very short visit, then time to hit the sack.

Wednesday was the day the boys did their own thing and the girls went their way... Fishing for some of the guys, golf for hubby and his bud Tony.

  Meanwhile, the girls took off for a riverboat adventure.  An hour ride later we reached the Palo Verdes National Park, climbed on our shallow bottom boats and took of.  Lizards, iguanas, birds, monkeys, crocodiles, bats and various other critters were everywhere. Yes, monkeys... on the boat, in the boat, next to me.... mmmmhhhmmmm, monkeys. 
  It was lots of fun, exciting and educational.  The tour included a local lunch and we were starving.... there was pork, chicken, rice and black beans, fried plantains, fresh pineapple juice... yummy.  And there were chickens, roosters specifically, walking around everywhere.  ahhh a day of chickens and monkeys.  I think I came to the wrong country.  I still do not like chickens or monkeys.  Period.
We all got back to resort about the same time and hit the pool again to cool off and catch up on our day.
We decided not to do dinner at the resort but head down the beach and try some local fare. It was soooo good. Outback Jacks is owned and run by an Austrailian who puts together some really good dishes. Grilled shrimp, coconut shrimp, shrimp salad, seafood stew, mozzarella;avocado salad.... all good. 
Our last dinner of the trip was awesome and the time with our friends was fabulous! 12 hours traveling home on Thursday was exhausting but the trip was more than we could have imagined.
some miscellaneous pics.Body surfing was an adventure I had never done.  the beach here is crushed shells.  Trust me, I had shells in the lining of my suit, in my hair, EVERYWHERE.
one of the locals..

the big guy below.... and I mean BIG GUY was the coolest thing we saw on our riverboat tour.  He was huge, prehistoric and terrifying.
We had just a little bit of fun

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